Enterprise imaging technology helps health systems and hospitals make radiology information more interoperable and accessible across clinical and business lines. That’s because the technology, which includes software that retrofits with existing systems or new hardware that provides interoperable solutions, allows images and other multimedia clinical content to be captured, reviewed, stored, distributed and integrated into other technology systems such as EHRs and other vendor neutral viewers.
Enterprise imaging solutions will comprise 27% of imaging information technology, archiving, and management purchases by 2021, according to a report by Signify Research. The report notes that enterprise imaging is also the fastest growing segment of the imaging technology market.
How enterprise imaging creates business insight
Because traditional imaging technology is often siloed so that image capturing, storage, and analytics are separate functions from the rest of the IT systems, investing in an enterprise imaging system benefits more than just a hospital’s radiology department, says Mitchell Goldburgh, global solutions manager of enterprise imaging and analytics for NTT DATA Services technology company.
“By uniting all the functions on one platform, an enterprise system provides greater insight into operations through business intelligence and operational dashboards, and allows users to move more easily through their work,” he says. “Work flows are organized in one system and users can access images and reports in a variety of locations and formats. Data can be more easily integrated for predictive and prescriptive analytics, for population health and other purposes.”
An enterprise system speeds up efforts to improve quality, use resources more efficiently, and monitor patient experience factors, Goldburgh says, noting that it also reduces the complexity of maintaining image data systems, because there is one repository with a common set of work flows.
Finally, he says, enterprise imaging can provide a complete record of all imaging across multiple EHRs and health systems, and therefore increase collaboration and improve care quality.
Costs for enterprise imaging technology vary depending on required functionality by intradepartment and interdepartment care coordination, Goldburgh says. Ultimately, he says the technology should lead to cost savings due to the consolidation of work processes.
Case study: Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Phoenix Children’s Hospital began using enterprise imaging technology in March 2017, as a part of a 15-year strategic partnership with Philips. The partnership gives the hospital access to advanced computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and angiography, along with patient monitoring, clinical informatics, and 3D printing that allows for research and innovation along with integrated picture archiving and communication systems and other IT solutions, says Richard Towbin, MD, division chief of radiology at Phoenix Children's Hospital.
“We’ve had a long-term relationship with Philips going back 10 years, so we have been acquiring equipment based on our needs over a period of time. The enterprise agreement extended it and formalized aspects of it,” Towbin says, adding that the agreement moves beyond radiology to include other hospital IT components.
Silvie Casanova, public relations director of Philips North America, says a long-term enterprise imaging partnership between vendors and health systems can include:
- Research and innovation programs;
- First-to-market medical technologies; and
- Integrated solutions that combine hardware, software, and make information between IT systems interoperable (such as imaging systems and EHRs).
“We engage in new business models with shared accountability to improve health outcomes. It’s not just about buying technology from us, we see Phoenix as a partner that we are codeveloping technologies with,” Casanova says. “That way we can possibly get other health systems to adopt the same technology and we can support those health systems with what we codeveloped with Phoenix Children’s.”
Since adopting the new imaging and clinical informatics technology, Towbin says that the hospital’s radiology department has improved CT dose management using iterative reconstructions of images. Also, the 3D laboratory, which is part of the enterprise imaging technology, allows them to create life-size models of organs and tumors to study alongside MRI and CT images.
“We have been able to reduce radiation doses between 30% to 70%, if not more, at the same maintaining or improving image quality. This allows us to make better diagnoses,” Towbin says. “We’re looking to develop efficient processes for patient turnaround time, cost management, and radiation exposure reduction.”
In the next decade, more analytic components will be added to imaging, and artificial intelligence will be a key part of image evaluation, says Towbin. Monitoring devices and molecular imaging will also help develop more precision therapies that will lower healthcare costs and help predict outcomes.
Donna Marbury is a writer in Columbus, Ohio.